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I wax nostalgic about this time of year. Surprisingly, it has very little to do with the holiday season. Instead, I think back across five Decembers and recall the first time I settled into my chair here at my home office in Cherokee Hills. All was peaceful, yet there was an underlying excitement. You see, that was the day the next chapter of my life’s story began. It was the day Kingston became “home.” Much has happened since. Life’s had its ups and downs, personally and professionally. Friends have come and gone. Some moved on. Others moved up – to Heaven. Whenever I think of departed colleagues and acquaintances and slip into a funk, I force myself to think about my first days in town. They were exciting! My wife and son bubbled with enthusiasm as we made out the shopping list to outfit the new hacienda. She wanted furniture. He wanted electronic gadgets and gismos. I wanted something a little more practical. The first big-ticket purchase I insisted upon was a washer and dryer combo. To be honest, I got the whole moving process a little backwards … or maybe just sideways. When I chose and paid for the machines at the store in Midtown, the fine fellow helping me out asked where I wanted them delivered. I didn’t give him a typical response. He stared back at me quizzically. “I’ll have to get back with you on that,” I muttered. Seriously, I actually had a laundry set before I had a place to put them. Long story short, it all worked out. Two weeks later the machines were promptly delivered to my current address and all was right with the world. Oh, and we did get around to the furniture and electronics stuff, too. Each and every item was purchased either in Kingston, Rockwood or Harriman. As time has passed, though, some things have changed. Our then 9th grader is now a sophomore at a great big university. Over the summer, as he was setting up his own new digs, he cabbaged on some of the furniture. Typical. When he was going through the list of things he was going to “borrow” from his folks, two items were strikingly missing – the washer and dryer. No, he’s not toting stuff too and fro. His new apartment came furnished with them. So, my pals downstairs in the laundry room remain where we set them in more than 1,800 days ago. One of them decided to give up the ghost the other night. At absolutely the worst moment possible, the dryer decided it wouldn’t turn on. As glum as I was, the Mrs. was elated. She’s been wanting one of those fancy shmancy front-loading deals for months. She did a quick Web search and decided the one she coveted would only set us back about $1,800. My heart sank; but, alas, I knew it was about time to visit the appliance store once again. After all, things don’t last forever. Except for the miracles our Good Lord works in our lives! You see, last Wednesday, after visiting with my good friends at the bank (they are always so uplifting), I ran into one of my buddies in the parking lot. I knew he knew a lot about appliances. So I shared my perplexing situation. Mind you, I didn’t mention that my wife was already salivating over a new machine. He was quick to troubleshoot sight unseen. The dead dryer had one of two problems. Neither was terminal. Suffice it to say, the Frugal One (Jon Clark says I am Mr. Cheap), broke out a multi-tester and got to work. Less than 10 minutes into the process of elimination, I discovered the problem. An internal fuse had blown. EIGHTEEN dollars later the dryer was humming and whirring good as new. Even the boss was pleased. Eighteen dollars versus eighteen HUNDRED dollars … who wouldn’t have a smile on their face? Remember how pleased she was that she’d “saved” us so much money last week on her Christmas shopping expedition? Well, now that I “saved” us $1,782 on the dryer, she’s figuring out how to better appropriate the funds. I caught her eyeing a brushed aluminum oven and range. I nudged her in the ribs and reminded her we have a perfectly fine barbecue out on the patio. After all, her two boys of now official Roane County Grillin’ Guys! Oh, what fun life is in my corner of the world ….